New BCI Board Member: Milena Maneva AMBCI

  • 03 Apr 2023
  • Milena

We are pleased to introduce Milena Maneva AMBCI as a new Board Member for The BCI. In this spotlight interview, Milena outlines her experience and contributions to the industry, as well as her hopes for the future.

Could you please tell us about your experience in this sector and how you got into Business Continuity (BC)?

Throughout my career, I have gained invaluable expertise in all aspects of governance, BC, risk management, crisis management, and disaster recovery. I've worked with a diverse range of organizations in various industries, from small businesses to large multinational corporations, and have helped them to build robust and resilient BC programmes. These experiences have given me a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our profession and the wider business community.

My interest in BC was sparked by a major incident that occurred in Cyprus back in 2011. On what should have been a normal working day, a massive explosion from a naval base caused a blackout on the entire island and this severe disruption was further compounded by an acute shortage of generators in the country, making a quick recovery extremely difficult. Many businesses, including the company I worked for, experienced continued electricity outages which lasted for more than two months after the blast. All of this happened in the middle of a very hot summer! I couldn't believe how unprepared organizations were for such events and the whole experience helped me see how important resilience and preparedness are.

With this incident very much at the back of my mind, I relocated to London to pursue a master's degree in risk management. It was here that I first learned about BC as an established practice and, within a couple of months of graduating, I made my first entry into the industry.

I currently hold the position of Head of Business Continuity and Resilience EMEA, where I am responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of BC and Resilience strategies across the region. Additionally, I am a co-founder and managing partner at the Resilience Think Tank.

In addition to my professional roles, I am also actively involved in promoting diversity and progression for women in the industry. I serve as a committee member on two steering groups dedicated to these important issues.

What role has the BCI played in this journey?

Embarking on the CBCI course and exam was the start of a wonderful journey for me. It helped me to build valuable friendships, connections, and knowledge, leading to increased expertise in the field of BC and Organizational Resilience. Prior to studying for my MSc in Risk Management, I had no prior knowledge of BC as a subject or profession. Initially, I did not think that taking the course and joining the institute would have any impact on my career, but I was proven wrong.

The BCI has played a crucial role in my personal and professional development. Each year, I grew exponentially with the knowledge and opportunities provided by the BCI. The institute has given me a standing in the industry, raised my profile, and opened doors for me to share my knowledge through content creation and speaking opportunities. This has expanded my network and capabilities, and fuelled my desire to give back to the industry.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, I had more time to devote to sharing best practices and helping others. This led to the co-founding and management of The Resilience Think Tank. I am immensely proud of my contribution to the industry in this meaningful way.

Since January 2021, I have had the privilege of serving on the BCI Women in Resilience Committee and later joining a D&I Steering Committee in February of the same year. I have also volunteered in community initiatives, supported my peers, and I was part of the Programme Advisory Group (PAG) for BCI World Hybrid 2022. I have been a working group lead and part of the TAG for the BCI Good Practice Guidelines revision. These experiences have been pivotal in my professional development and allowed me to give back to the industry that I am so passionate about.

In addition to these contributions, I have participated in numerous events and webinars, sharing my expertise on relevant topics and publishing articles that promote resilience in the industry. I am committed to promoting diversity and inclusion, and helping organizations become more resilient while supporting individuals in reaching their full potential. The BCI has played a crucial role in my journey and I am grateful for the opportunities it has provided me.

What has been some of your greatest challenges and successes in this industry?

In the BC and Resilience industry, one of the greatest challenges is the lack of young professionals. There are limited opportunities available for young people to enter the industry and those who do enter often struggle to gain the necessary knowledge and skills. Additionally, it can be difficult for young professionals to challenge existing practices and mindsets in order to promote Organizational Resilience. Building resilience should be instilled from a young age to foster the right mindset.

Another challenge is demonstrating the value of our work to our employers and peers. As enablers, we connect teams and identify gaps in organizations, but it can be challenging to quantify our impact. However, it's crucial to track and showcase our achievements to prove our worth.

For me, success in this industry isn't just about achieving big wins, but also about making meaningful contributions such as influencing change, building a better world, and overcoming challenges.

I'm honoured to have been appointed as a Board Director for the BCI. It's a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the wider resilience community and continue promoting the importance of resilience in all aspects of our lives.

Why have you decided to join the BCI board?

I have decided to join the BCI Board as I am deeply committed to the organization's mission and values, and I believe that I possess the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to make a valuable contribution to its governance and strategic direction. Having researched the role and responsibilities of a Board Director, I am enthusiastic about taking on this challenge and responsibility.

My passion for BC and Resilience has been evident throughout my career, and I have been an active member of the BCI community for several years. I am now seeking to further my involvement in the organization by offering my expertise to the BCI Board of Directors. I recognise the crucial role that a Board Director plays, and I am eager to take on this responsibility to contribute to the continued success of the organization. I look forward to serving as a BCI Board Director and playing a part in the growth and development of the organization.

What strengths and experience will you bring to the BCI board?

I bring a unique and valuable perspective to helping organizations and individuals become resilient. I'm passionate about helping organizations and individuals reach their full potential by fostering a culture of preparedness and resilience. Having worked with diverse organizations across various industries, I have developed a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our profession and the wider business community.

My commitment to the BCI's mission and values, coupled with my skills in collaboration, enables me to work effectively with fellow board members and BCI staff, ensuring that our programmes and services meet the evolving needs of our members and the profession.

As a skilled communicator and ambassador, I am passionate about promoting the value and importance of BC and Resilience to the wider community. I believe in thinking outside the box and finding innovative solutions to challenges, opportunities, and threats, while remaining open-minded and collaborating with diverse stakeholders to find the best way forward. Combining creativity with analytical thinking, I strive to stay up to date with the latest trends and developments in the field of BC. By leveraging my skills, experience, and passion, I am confident that I can bring a fresh perspective and make a valuable contribution to the BCI.

What excites you about the future of this sector?

The future of resilience is full of opportunities and challenges, and I am excited about the evolving landscape of this sector. While we face difficulties such as aging infrastructure and technology, I remain hopeful that technological advancements will offer solutions to these problems. In addition, I am passionate about agile leadership and the importance of direction, commitment/ownership, and alignment within an organization. As BC/Resilience professionals, we may not be experts in every discipline, but our combined knowledge and relationships can help bridge gaps and enable informed decisions at every level of the organization.

The increasing recognition of the value of BC has led to its evolution, and organizations must adapt to respond to new threats such as cyber threats, supply chain disruption, and climate change. I find it fascinating to help others increase their value in front of their employers in this dynamic field. However, we must also focus on building better leaders and preparing the next generation to be resilient. It is crucial that we invest in young people and provide opportunities and placements for them to join our industry. Until everyone is resilient, we cannot be fully resilient.

Best career advice you have ever received?

The best career advice I have ever received is to always show up and deliver your best work, while maintaining integrity and owning up to your promises. It is important to prioritise personal growth and development, without comparing yourself to others. Remember to take each day as a new opportunity to be better than before and to be grateful for your progress and accomplishments. Additionally, there are a few other important lessons I have learned along the way that I would like to share:

  • don't be afraid to speak up,
  • learn how to say "no" when necessary,
  • and treat everyone with respect, regardless of their background or profession.

Tell us more about you

During my bachelor's degree, I had the opportunity to work as a TV presenter which was an incredible experience. It helped me come out of my shell and develop excellent interviewing skills, while also fostering my passion for creative content. Apart from my professional life, I'm an avid scuba diver and had my first shark encounter in 2015. It was an exhilarating experience diving with eleven sharks, including tiger and sandbar sharks that were over three meters long. While encountering sharks can be intimidating, being underwater feels like you're in a completely different universe. I believe in the power of self-belief, confidence, and leading through change and uncertainty. Staying calm in any situation and continuously learning is also essential to me and what I do.


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About the author

Milena Maneva

Global Board Director, BCI | Head of Business Continuity&Resilience, EMEA

Milena Maneva is one of the global co-founders and managing partners of the Resilience Think Tank and has over 15+ years of extensive experience spanning the financial services, brokerage, legal, and real estate sectors. Her knowledge and proficiency encompass resilience, risk management, governance, business continuity, and crisis management. Milena's unwavering passion lies in empowering both organizations and individuals to unlock their full potential through the cultivation of a culture rooted in readiness and resilience.